Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Failing Memories, Cancer and the Farmers Market



The Farmers Market parking lot was jammed and I was stuck in a line of ten cars waiting for shoppers to leave to free up parking spaces. It’s always that way if you get there before 11:00 which I usually try to avoid doing...but not this week. The early morning air at the market was crisp with a high of 65 degrees predicted but that didn’t stop people from walking around wearing short-shorts with sweatshirts and quilted jackets. In a few years when I lose the filter in my brain that keeps old people from saying exactly what we think, I’ll be shouting out the car window, “Go home and put on some pants!” I’ve seen shorts-clad people when there’s nine inches of snow on the ground and the temperature is below zero. I don’t get that. I really don’t! In some mountainous places on earth, where the sun burns the snow off by noon and the landscape warms up, short-shorts might make sense but here in Michigan, snow and below freezing temperatures are usually here for the duration of winter. 

I can’t believe it’s September and I’m writing about winter already. But the not-so-subtle clues that fall has arrived hit me hard at the market: 1) I saw my first flock of birds headed south; 2) Steam rose from my fresh-ground cup of coffee; and 3) the nuns who sell baked goods to help the women's’ shelter were wearing drab sweaters over their heavy habits. I stocked up on root vegetables and squash and lusted over the famous Cheese Lady’s products. The cold air brought the dog lovers out in force. There were at least fifteen dogs there. Two vendors cater to them---one sells canine cookies and the other sells favored bones. Many vendors at the market give out samples---cookies, cheese, jerky, melon, jams, candy, bread---and one time my wheelchair bound husband rolled up to the dog cookie samples and popped one in his mouth before anyone could tell him they were canine treats. Don didn’t seem to know the difference so those of us who saw what happened traded broad smiles above his head. The market is full of widow’s memories. He loved the Farmers Market and the first summer after he passed away, I couldn’t bear to be there. Now, those memories are like warm friends who come to visit. 

Sometimes I wonder if having Alzheimer’s doesn’t just sent us off to the Land of Good Memories and you like it so much you don’t want to come back. I know that’s not true, judging by how scary it is for people experiencing the early symptoms. But maybe if I tell myself that often enough, when the times comes for me---if it comes---I can avoid the scary entrance to A-Land and go directly to the middle of that timeless, zone-out existence. 

My older brother called last week to tell me he’s got prostate cancer and to ask me what kind of treatments our father had for his prostate cancer. I couldn’t even remember him having prostate cancer and when I told my brother that he said, “You took him for his treatments. You don’t remember that?” I answered back, “Two hours from now I’ll remember” and that prediction came true. My time lapse in memory recall triggered two related memories---one of Don’s mother and one of my mother. Both had been asked a question by a doctor and several hours later they both answered those questions. It took that long for their brains to process the question and to answer them, and they both did that as if nothing in between the asking and the answering had happened. I still remember what I did in between my brother’s Q and A. Hallmark should make a card for that. Congratulations, your brain is functioning on four out of six cylinders!

We take so much in life for granted like fall always comes after summer. Like I’ll always have an older brother. Prostate cancer is one of the more curable cancers so I won’t let my mind go in any other direction than him living with a cure. I took it for granted my entire life that I’ll always be strong-minded and sharp enough to take care of myself and---for now---I won’t let my mind go in any other direction than to fixate on trying to keep my brain from turning to mush. With any luck, the parking lot to get into Alzheimer’s Land will be as jammed up as the early morning Farmers Market lot and I’ll have to keep circling until they find a cure with a success rate as high as that for prostate cancer. ©

13 comments:

  1. I forget things all the time and have for a long time. My forgetfulness is usually words. I just can't find the word I'm trying to say. It's pretty awful. Oh the joys of getting old.

    Have a fabulous Sunday. ☺

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    1. I forget words, too. It's annoying and frustrating, isn't it. Yes, the joys....

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  2. I'very been reading and enjoying your blog for the last couple of months.

    I love your line, "Now, those memories are like warm friends who come to visit". Good way of looking at it .

    Peggy

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    1. Thank you! And welcome. Funny how memories that could once bring so much pain can now bring smiles, Life goes on, as they say.

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  3. When your brother made his pronouncement to you, your mind went into a kind of shock and I am amazed you could even hear the rest of his question. When I was told that my son had prostate cancer, I just sat there, holding the phone and saying nothing. Trying to think of what to say. Thankfully, treatments for your brother and my son are better today than they ever have been. There usually is no "cure", but there is remission and a managing of the cancer. They will probably take out your brother's prostate and then do some radiation or chemo. Right now, my son is taking pills to decrease his testosterone--they call it medical castration, instead of surgical castration. Whatever they call it, castration is what it is---which can send men into all kinds of mental and emotional pain. We have female "castration" with a total hysterectomy and think nothing of it, but men?

    It seems all my memories of Fred are happy ones. Which is a very good thing. :-)

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    1. That's right you've recently gone through a similar cancer shock---though you're is worse because of your son's age compared to my brother's. My brother is in excellent health so he has that going for him, He's still in the stage where they are gathering treatment options, then deciding. We both know how often we tell others that prostate cancer is the most curable of the cancers but when it hits close to home, the words have less impact.

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  4. In a few years when I lose the filter in my brain that keeps old people from saying exactly what we think...
    A couple of weeks ago, I had lunch with an old lady who is 90. Every year we have lunch at a lovely restaurant (after our dentist appointments). This year I suspect she lost that filter that you were referring to. We were seated by the hostess, a young girl in a flowing dress. When she started to walk away, but was still in hearing distance, my companion said "do you think she has anything at all underneath that dress (it was blowing in the breeze on the patio and it didn't seem that she had any under garments on). I tried to indicate to my companion that she should not speak so loud but instead of her normal reaction which would have been to excuse her impoliteness, she said (in the same volume) no really she doesn't....
    The hostess and I looked at each other in that way that you sometimes do!!!
    Oh well!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. That's a funny story and exactly the kind of thing that seems to happen to older people. There really does seem to be a filter that gets lost. Children and old people say the darnest things. LOL

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  5. A beautiful, poignant, insightful post full of humor, fear, and hope. I just love your writing and how you capture so much in so few words.

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  6. Thank you! Can you believe it, I had no idea where this post would lead when I started writing it. I started with a two word prompt: Market and cancer.

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  7. The memory thing scares me.

    I love everything about our farmer's market: the beautiful vegetables and canned goods and homemade breads and butter, the families who run the place. I miss it when it closes the day before Thanksgiving. There's usually nothing left by then, but I go to get the butter and a few canned things that we enjoy. Everything is marked down.

    Loved this post. You're so good.

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    1. Our market closes earlier than yours, I'm thinking the end of October. But, I agree it's still fun. I live in apple country so we'll have a zillion apple varieties and the two bread vendors are worth the trip all by themselves. Plant people do well in the fall, too. Lots of jams, jerky and cheese in the late market too. I skip the popcorn people but they do well at the market.

      I was so glad to see your post this week. I love your writing style and, of course, what you write about.

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